Dr. Milan Jamrich
ProfessorDepartment of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Department of Molecular and Human Genetics
Baylor College of Medicine
One Baylor Plaza N620
The overall aim of our research is to define the molecular basis of embryonic pattern formation. Pattern formation is a process which leads to ordered spatial arrangements of differentiated tissues. It is not only interesting from a theoretical standpoint, but from a medical perspective as well. Each year in USA alone more than 250,000 infants are born with congenital malformation due to incorrect embryonic patterning. It is our goal to identify genes that are involved in pattern formation and characterize developmental processes that lead to correct and incorrect pattern formation. The major research effort in our laboratory is focused on study of homeobox and fork head genes that are involved in the patterning of the embryo. We have identified several genes that are important in early stages of head development We have found a novel homeobox gene Rx that is essential for normal eye development. Rx is initially expressed in retinal progenitor cells and later in retinal stem cells. Xenopus embryos injected with Rx RNA develop ectopic retinal tissue and display hyperproliferation in the neuroretina. Mouse embryos carrying a null allele of this gene do not form optic cups and consequently do not develop eyes. These observations suggest that Rx regulates the fate or the proliferative abilities of retinal cells and controls the survival of retinal stem cells (Mathers et al., 1997).